9Country ProfileA diverse variety of cultures and traditionsTopography includes both mountains and beachesBerber languages...
COUNTRY PROFILE                                                     11                                                    ...
12                                    COUNTRY PROFILE                                                                     ...
Oxford Business Group - Morocco 2012 Report
Oxford Business Group - Morocco 2012 Report
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Oxford Business Group - Morocco 2012 Report

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Oxford Business Group - Morocco 2012 Report

  1. 1. 9Country ProfileA diverse variety of cultures and traditionsTopography includes both mountains and beachesBerber languages gaining official recognitionA new constitution gives parliament more authority
  2. 2. COUNTRY PROFILE 11 Urbanisation is an increasingly important trend for the kingdomStrength in diversityThe kingdom is home to a wide variety of cultures and languagesLocated in the western-most region of North Africa, different sub-Saharan African minorities accountedMorocco is a constitutional monarchy known for its var- for the blurring of these ethnic separations over theied geography, climate, population and customs. It is centuries. Morocco is nonetheless culturally dividedbordered by Algeria to the east, Mauritania to the south, between cosmopolitan coastal regions, with a strongthe Mediterranean to the north-east, and the North influence of European and Arab culture, contrasting withAtlantic to the west. Its location has been the source Berber- and Sahara-dominated interior areas. Moroc-of an interplay of influences that have characterised co’s Jewish minority (numbering about 6000) are rem-its history over the past 3000 years. nants of a once 250,000-strong community, many of Today, one of the kingdom’s greatest challenges is whom moved to Israel and Western Europe after 1948.to successfully achieve a balance between its age-old LANGUAGES: Morocco is a polyglot kingdom with attraditions and the changes brought about by econom- least four languages in regular use around the coun-ic and social development. try. Modern Standard Arabic is Morocco’s official lan-POPULATION: The 2010 population growth rate was guage. Its local dialect, Darija, is the most commonly1.1%, with a population of some 32m inhabitants. Pop- used. Darija differs substantially from classic Arabic inulation centres are unevenly distributed, with signifi- both pronunciations and vocabulary, and has furthercant concentrations in the Northern Atlantic region, local influences in different regions of the country.the Rif and the Atlas or Anti-Atlas areas. Morocco has Hassani for example, a dialect common in Mauritania,a relatively young population (the 15-to-65-year-old is widely spoken in the Saharan region.age bracket accounts for 65% of the population), which Despite the fact that no precise figures exist, theremeans an immense number of educational opportu- are an estimated 8m people using Berber as their day-nities. Average life expectancy has risen to 72 years for to-day language. Throughout North Africa, the Berbermen and 78 years for women. The country has also expe- dialects have long been subject to discrimination forrienced a fall in the infant mortality rate, which stands their contrast to the predominant Arab and Islamicat about 30 deaths for every 1000 live births. A trend influences. There have been efforts to halt this socialin rural migration has transformed Morocco into a large- unbalance, particularly by King Mohammed VI, wholy urban society over the last decade, and approximate- called for Berber to be taught in schools. In 2003 Berberly 60% of citizens now live in cities. This trend is partly was officially included in schools’ curricula. In his his-fuelled by the dwindling appeal of rural life and the high- toric speech of June 17th, 2011, King Mohammed VIer standard of living perceived in cities. The influx of announced that Tamazight, the most widely used formMorocco’s increasingly young population to urban areas, of Berber, had been made an official language along-especially on the Atlantic seaboard, feeds a significant side Modern Standard Arabic and will be used in allinformal employment sector and is a focal point of the administrative matters, making Morocco the only coun-government’s current reform and legislative agendas. try where Tamazight is ranked as an official language.While statistics vary, the accepted national unemploy- French is also widely spoken, especially among thement figures oscillate around 9.1% and around 15% in influential foreign-educated classes, the older gener-urban centres. Despite economic growth, about 15% ation and in the big urban centres. For business, sci-of the population is under the international poverty line. ence and in higher education, French remains the Morocco’s population is approximately 67% Arab, favoured language. North of the country, Spanish is31% indigenous Berber and 2% Sahrawi. Intermarriage prevalent. English and German are less common, main-between the groups is common. Marriage between ly used by those working in tourism sector segments. THE REPORT Morocco 2012
  3. 3. 12 COUNTRY PROFILE climate and rainfall mostly limited to the winter months synonymous with northern hemisphere patterns. Much of the precipitation comes off the Atlantic Ocean, buffeting the coastal regions with rain and strong winds. The hot and dry summer months witness temperatures as high as 40°. The Atlas area is temper- ate in climate, and is where most snowfall occurs in win- ter. The southern and Anti-Atlas regions are predomi- nantly deserts. NATURAL RESOURCES: Morocco has vast deposits of mineable resources. It has significant phosphate reserves, along with iron, ore, manganese, zinc, lead, salt, cobalt and silver. It is the world’s leading exporter of phosphate, which is needed for the production of fertilisers. Morocco also has significant agriculture, fishing, forestry and aquaculture sectors. Overexploitation in these sectors has become a major issue that needs to be addressed (particularly in the fishing industry). Desertification in regions bordering the Sahara is also a concern. To counteract these con-The language of education varies, with both Arabic and French used for instruction cerns, the concept of sustainable development is gain- EDUCATION: Recent government figures put the coun- ing ground and receiving additional support. try’s literacy rate at 61.6%, with a 25% gender gap. Gov- FLAG: The Moroccan flag is solid red and emblazoned ernment efforts currently focus on revitalising the sec- with a green star, a five-pointed variant of Solomon’s tor by promoting primary education. School attendance seal. The red flag was introduced by the Alaouite dynasty is now mandatory between ages six and 15. Other at the beginning of the 17th century and the seal was measures include free literacy courses for adults and added in 1912 to distinguish the Moroccan red flag from revamping national vocational training institutes. The others in use at the time. The green of the seal is a colour issue of determining the unanimous use of a single closely associated with Islam. language for basic teaching in school remains a chal- POLITICAL SYSTEM: Morocco is a constitutional monar- lenge. It is not uncommon for students to start elemen- chy governed by a parliamentary system. In recent years tary school in Modern Standard Arabic and later switch the government has advanced a process of political lib- to French for higher education. eralisation. There has been significant moves towards RELIGION: The majority of Moroccans are Sunni Mus- decentralisation. The King continues to have impor- lims, following the local Malekite rite, which is known tant constitutional powers and actively controls both for its tolerance. The king is recognised as “comman- foreign and national affairs. He is the supreme reli- der of the believers” and is Morocco’s supreme religious gious authority and also supervises judges and the jus- authority. Sufism is also common and there are numer- tice ministry, as well as the military. ous Sufi holy places and festivals. Prior to 1948 Moroc- The bicameral parliament is divided into a lower co was home to one of the world’s largest Sephardic House of Representatives, comprising 325 seats, and Jewish populations, but emigration has sharply reduced an upper house, the Chamber of Counsellors, with 270 numbers. The remaining community is still highly seats. Members of each house are elected for five-year involved, and the Moroccan Jewish diaspora has proven terms and all Moroccans over the age of 18 have vot- to be a powerful ally when it comes to foreign relations ing rights. Members of the upper house are elected indi- with EU countries and the US. Christianity is practised rectly by local councils, professional organisations and primarily by the country’s European residents and Sub- trade unions and serve for nine-year, non-consecutive Saharan African immigrants. terms. One-third of the counsellors take their seats GEOGRAPHY & CLIMATE: Morocco has a great deal and rotate every three years. of geographic diversity. The country spreads over four The most important leftist political parties are the topographical zones: the Atlas and Rif mountain ranges Socialist Union of People’s Forces, the Popular Move- to the north, with altitudes reaching 4165 metres; the ment, and the Party of Progress and Socialism. The fertile coastal plains to the west; the drier Anti-Atlas main rightist parties include the Istiqlal Party, the Jus- region in the centre; and the Sahara desert to the south. tice and Development Party, the National Rally of Inde- While the kingdom retains de facto control over the pendents and the Constitutional Union. disputed Moroccan/Western Sahara region, the ques- In November 2011 Moroccans went to the polls in tion of its sovereignty is still in dispute. Morocco’s the country’s first parliamentary elections since adopt- Mediterranean and Atlantic coastlines extend well over ing a new constitution. Both parliament and the prime 3500 km (including the disputed region in the Sahara). minister have more power under the new constitution. To the north, the Strait of Gibraltar separates North The Justice and Development Party managed to take Africa from Europe by a mere 17 km at its narrowest first place in the November 2011 election, winning 107 point. Morocco has a predominantly Mediterranean out of 395 total available seats (see Politics chapter). www.oxfordbusinessgroup.com/country/Morocco

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